US state Iowa deep under water

June 16th, 2008 - 5:52 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 16 (DPA) The inundated US state Iowa faced more dramatic flooding Sunday as the Iowa River pumped more than three meters above flood stage submerging a university campus in Iowa City. Water was receding in the worst hit city Cedar Rapids Sunday as other cities sank deeper, including the state capital of Des Moines.

Many small communities in the state have been completely evacuated and in Cedar Rapids alone nearly 25,000 of the 120,000 inhabitants had to flee. Some were permitted to return to their homes Sunday, although about 1,000 square blocks still stood under water.

According to CNN, the first victim of the flooding in Iowa was a man who had chosen not to evacuate. The head of the US disaster management authority, David Paulison, expressed fear that other victims may be found in flooded buildings.

Drinking water was scarce, since three of four purification plants in the city flooded and storage tanks had became contaminated. Altogether, only one quarter of the usual quantity of clean water was available. The city called on citizens to limit use to drinking consumption, emphasizing that remaining potable water was under severe threat of contamination. In view of contamination the city offered free tetanus shots.

Hundreds of homes in the city were severely damaged after the Cedar River flooded its banks following heavy rainfall. The regional authority for disaster management said it will be several days before it is possible to determine which buildings are safe for people to enter.

Damage estimates in Cedar Rapids have reached about $735 million. In view of that Iowa Governor Chet Culver expressed concern that floods around the state will result in a billion dollars in harvest losses alone as crops are ruined in the worst flooding in the state in 15 years.

Culver said 83 of the state’s 99 counties had been declared disaster areas. After a dam burst on the outskirts of Des Moines about 270 homes were evacuated before they were flooded.

In Iowa City parts of the state university were flooded by the Iowa River, including a performing arts theatre and a museum, where millions of dollars in artwork had been taken to dry ground, CNN reported. Hopes are now focused on improved weather. Meteorologists forecast sunny weather in coming days.

Heavy rainfall has submerged much of the US Midwest. Some areas in Indiana resemble typical lake areas of Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the city of Quincy in his home-state Illinois democratic US presidential candidate Barack Obama helped to build sand bag barriers.

Nearly a 500-mile section of the Mississippi River is closed to navigation.

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